CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY READING
With Christmas and New Year on the near horizon, 2022 is nearly wrapped up, and my reading over the holiday period will largely be focused on the new releases for 2023 that I have received.
First up is Rebecca Heath’s debut adult crime novel, The Summer Party (Head of Zeus, 10 January 2023).
Ideally titled for Australian summer holiday reading, The Summer Party is set on the South Australian coast and smoothly moves back and forth between 2019 and the summer of 2000. After two decades of silence Lucy Ross is back in the once tranquil town of Queen’s Point to clean out the home of her recently deceased grandmother. Her arrival in the now booming beach town, however, coincides with the discovery of human remains on the beach, and brings back into light events from 2000 that still haunt Lucy. Back in 2000 sixteen-year-old Lucy was intoxicated by the super rich Whitlam family who casually drew her into their remit. As her holiday moved towards its finale, with a lavish party at the Whitlam’s clifftop mansion, events moved in unexpected directions, which Lucy now has to make sense of .
I have nearly finished reading this one, and it is a smoothly written tale that will appeal to fans of C. L. Taylor and Lisa Jewell. Good beach reading this summer!
The Summer Party will be released in Australia on 10 January 2023 and on Kindle in the United Kingdom on 5 January 2023.
Charlie Donlea’s Those Empty Eyes (Kensington, 28 March 2023) is another one, which I am already well through.
Donlea is one of my favourite authors and I was very grateful to get an early release of Those Empty Eyes from the American publishers and NetGalley.
Donlea’s books are always unpredictable and full of great twists. His latest is no exception and opens ten years ago with the brutal murder of a family in Virginia. The only survivor is the teenage daughter of the family, who the police initially suspect as being the murderer. Alexandra Quinlan, nicknamed Empty Eyes by the media, is eventually able to prove her innocence, and even wins a highly publicised defamation lawsuit, but many still consider her a murderer. Ten years later Alex lives under a new name and far away from the media spotlight. Her job as a legal investigator involves her in a case to prove the innocence of Matthew Claymore, who’s under suspicion in the disappearance of his girlfriend, a student journalist named Laura McAllister who was about to break a major story about rape and cover-ups on her college campus. As Alex investigates she discovers links back to the killing of her own family.
So far this is a tightly structured and very clever thriller that constantly keeps you surprised. Certainly one to put on your watch list. Those Empty Eyes will be released in the United States and on Kindle in Australia on 28 March 2023.
Bringing some much needed grit to Australian police fiction is John Byrnes’ debut novel Headland (Allen & Unwin,
10 January 2023). Featuring a very damaged police officer, Detective Constable Craig Watson, with addiction issues and behavioural problems, it is set in the small New South Wales beachside town of Gloster, which is being swamped by constant rain and rising floodwaters. Suddenly Watson and two young female constables find themselves stranded in the town by the floodwaters and hunted by a killer who needs them dead.
This starts very well and looks like being a gripping read! It also has a terrific cover!
Headland will be released in Australia on 10 January 2023.
Also with a tough edge is Jeremy Brown’s The Wake (Wolfpack Publishing, 2021).
One of the great finds of 2022 for me was the Bruder novels by Jeremy Brown (thanks Paul Bishop). Bruder is an unrepentant thief in the mold of Richard Stark’s (aka Donald Westlake) Parker, Garry Disher’s Wyatt, Max Allan Collins’ Nolan and Wallace Stroby’s excellent Carissa Stone.
I have read the first two books in the Bruder series, The Wrench and The Box, and loved both of them. I am very much looking forward to reading the third, The Wake, over Christmas.
The story finds Bruder forced into pulling off what seems like a simple errand, stealing an impounded yacht and delivering it to its owner in the Gulf of Mexico, but it quickly gets complicated when he finds out who the luxury craft belongs to and meets the ruthless crew he’s supposed to run.
Like the Parker and Nolan novels, the Bruder books are stripped down in style and there is hardly a wasted word as they race their way to a usually bloody climax. I am really looking forward to this one.
For Australian readers the Bruder books are a little hard to find, but are available on Kindle for a really good price.
Louise Candlish’s The Other Passenger was one of my favourite crime novels of 2021 and I am keen to read her new book, The Only Suspect (Simon & Schuster, 2 February 2023).
Louise is expert at the twisty crime thriller with a slightly unreliable narrator, an abundance of new and old secrets, the usual messy relationships and a murder or two, and it sounds like there is plenty of all of that in The Only Suspect.
The publishers provide the following information:
“Alex lives a comfortable life with his wife Beth in the leafy suburb of Silver Vale. Fine, so he’s not the most outgoing guy on the street, he prefers to keep himself to himself, but he’s a good husband and an easy-going neighbour.
That’s until Beth announces the creation of a nature trail on a local site that’s been disused for decades and suddenly Alex is a changed man. Now he’s always watching. Questioning. Struggling to hide his dread . . .
As the landscapers get to work, a secret threatens to surface from years ago, back in Alex’s twenties when he got entangled with a seductive young woman called Marina, who threw both their lives into turmoil.
And who sparked a police hunt for a murder suspect that was never quite what it seemed.
And it still isn’t.“
Sounds like another good beach read.
In anticipation of a new novel by Alex North, The Half Burnt House, later this year (see below), I am planning on going back and reading the first novel he wrote as Steve Mosby, The Third Person.
The Third Person was originally released in 2003 and is a typically dark tale by Mosby/North about a young man who becomes caught up in the dark side of the internet as he searches for his missing girlfriend.
I have read most of the Steve Mosby novels, and greatly liked them, but have never read his debut The Third Person. I recently acquired a copy and thought the Christmas break would be a good opportunity to dive into it.
Here is a link to my flash back review of another Mosby/North novel, Black Flowers: https://murdermayhemandlongdogs.com/throwback-thursday-black-flowers-by-steve-mosby-alex-north-2011/
I will be posting full reviews of the above books in the New Year, so please look out for them. In the meanwhile, have a great Christmas!